north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Mary Lewis Wyche February 26, 1858-August 22, 1936) was chiefly responsible for establishing nursing as a profession in North Carolina. Of her one writer has claimed, “What Clara Barton has been to America, Mary Lewis Wyche has been to North Carolina.” Raised at “Wychewood,” the family home between Henderson and Williamsboro in Vance County, young Miss Wyche was educated at Henderson College. In 1894 she completed her medical training in Philadelphia, soon returning to her native state to serve at Rex Hospital in Raleigh and Watts Hospital in Durham.

     It was while at Rex in 1901 that Wyche organized the Raleigh Nurses’ Association. The following year, during State Fair week, she persuaded fourteen nurses from various parts of the state to meet her at Olivia Raney Library. There, on October 28, 1902, the North Carolina Nurses’ Association was born. For six years she served as its president. In 1903, working through the organization, Wyche persuaded the legislature to enact a law concerning the registration of nurses. In 1911, along with Birdie Dunn of Raleigh, Wyche established a home near Black Mountain for tubercular nurses. It took the name “Dunnwyche.” A pre-nursing course at the Woman’s College in Greensboro and the school of nursing at Duke University were set up on the urging of Wyche.

     In 1927, at age sixty-seven, Miss Wyche retired from active service to work on a history of nursing in North Carolina, a volume that was published two years after her death. She spent the last six years of her life at her childhood home, “Wychewood.” She was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Greensboro. In 1975 “Wychewood” was standing and structurally sound, though unoccupied.

Mary Lewis Wyche, The History of Nursing in North Carolina (1938)
Lou Rogers, Tar Heel Women (1949)
C. H. Hamlin, Ninety Bits of North Carolina Biography (1946)
Greensboro Daily News, August 24, 1936
Files of the Survey and Planning Branch, State Historic Preservation Office, Office of Archives and History, Raleigh

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north carolina highway historical marker program

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